By Jordan Petteys.
Sunlight escaped through stacks of red egg crates, creating an orange glow that illuminated Andrew Brantley (guitar/vocal), Nickalous Benson (guitar/vocal), Tyler Walker (bass/vocal), Chris Freiberg (keyboard) and Sam Groveman (drums) as their passion poured out in a space where vintage rock vibed with contemporary jams. Here, a sunny band room inspired a six legged squid, three albums and a refreshing sense of organic music: meet The Orange Constant.
Dorm room jam sessions in Statesboro and 2012 basement endeavors quickly evolved into a full length album in 2014, seasonal tours across the East Coast and a full five-member band. Residing in Athens since 2015, the band has shimmied from a crowded storage unit to an intimate practice space in their home. Brantley and Benson, TOC’s founders, both came from a variety of musical taste which has contributed to the band’s unique sound.
“We tend to be criticized or get the comment that our band is really hard to pin exactly what genre it is. The message that we take from that is that we’re just going to play the music we enjoy, and whatever is satisfying to us,” Benson said. “I think that’s kind of what’s become the message, at least from my point of the view. We welcome everything and are welcome to trying anything, and whatever makes us happy.”
Whether a song is crafted methodically or inspired by organic jam sessions, all band members are involved in TOC’’s creative process. “It seems like we go through phases with writing. For a while we were really focusing on covers,” Freiberg said.
Believing there’s no formula for their writing, members either pitch fragments or entire songs to the group, and the others find their place in each new idea. “We had some time off in December so that was a writing phase for sure. It was kind of the same thing, though, where everybody had their own material. Sometimes writing works best in sub groups, so if I have something that Nick would enjoy too, I’d meet with him and develop it until it was presentable and then we’d share it with the rest of the group,” Freiberg said. “I learned that time off is almost as important as time on, it’s not only to recharge and to spend time in other areas of your life, but definitely for the creative process.”
Having embraced a free flow of ideas, community and artistic expression, TOC attracts a diverse audience. “Our band, and I imagine a lot of people at SCAD, have the same hope for their audiences: don’t judge based on just one product. Ideally you may have a style, but each piece is really unique to its own self. So with our music, you may love one song, but that doesn’t mean you’ll love all of them, or you might not like one, but there’s another one that might speak to you,” Benson said. “We’re aiming for anybody who’s willing to listen.”
“One thing that’s always been unique about us is that we’ve kept all of our artwork in house,” Benson said. By selecting material that vibes sonically, musically and lyrically, each song creates a distinct character.
While the music is diverse, the band carries cohesive themes in their album artwork. “The squid was a creation from the original drummer,” said Freiberg, referring to the six-tentacled squid that makes an appearance on much TOC’s artwork. “The squid that he created has fewer legs than a normal squid, he did that to give it its own character and flavor and it’s become part of our brand.”
As part of their Winter Tour 2018, The Orange Constant will play a 21+ show in Savannah Jan. 20 at Barrelhouse South Bar and Grill. Their set begins at 11 p.m.
“We love Savannah; it’s a frequent stop when we’re making our way around the Southeast. It’s going to be a killer show, with a lot of new material to show all the fans. I hope everyone can come out and enjoy it,” Freiberg said.